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Garland Jeffreys writes songs; Lin Brehmer played them

01 Feb 2023 4:24 PM | Sarah Klose (Administrator)

Summer in the streets. Garland Jeffreys onstage at Square Roots Festival. Songwriter and singer of blues/soul/rock/reggae. I want to hear him croon Wild in the Streets, Matador, 96 Tears  and more. Sure enough, Garland sings them all, belting out the lyrics. I joyfully sing and dance along.

Lin Brehmer, the wonderful disc jockey at WXRT, loved to play the rousing song  R.O.C.K. by Garland Jeffreys. I’ve listened to XRT forever -- at home, in the car, wherever, whenever -- and always enjoyed Brehmer broadcasts. I loved hearing Lin exclaim, “It’s great to be alive.” Loved hearing him blast songs over the airwaves and share witty insights. His comforting voice was like that of a friend. He’d say, “This is Lin Brehmer. Your best friend in the whole world.”

Lin also wrote creative, thoughtful personal essays and read them on the air. This was to answer listener’s questions, such as “Do You Ever Listen to Vinyl?” and “Have You Ever Chopped Down Your Own Christmas Tree?” I enjoyed how he made listeners laugh, think -- and feel good about life.

Then, a little over a week ago, Lin Brehmer died of cancer. Oh no! Like other long-time Chicago listeners, I don’t know how to mourn a loss that feels so personal. To try to process this, I‘ve done the following:

- Listened to XRT’s 4-hour tribute twice: live the first time, on the Audacy app the second time (it’s posted there, I believe through Feb 5). There are some great nuggets on there, such as how Lin could quote from Shakespeare as easily as from Animal House.

- Thought about being at Yakzie’s for the XRT live broadcasts on Cubs opening day. Lin Brehmer with Terri Hemmert, the Regular Guy, rock bands, blues bands, song spoof singers -- all there live, in person, to entertain us. And they did!

- Searched my photos until I found it: the one from Heaven on Seven, taken on a Fat Tuesday. I was surprised to see Lin Brehmer there. We chatted -- such a friendly guy -- and he posed for a picture with me. I didn’t know he liked that restaurant so much, until XRT said so recently.

Then I think back...when did I see Garland Jeffreys sing outdoors near the Old Town School of Folk Music? I find a review of the show online. A photo shows him singing into the microphone, wearing a purple shirt like I remember. The text says Garland thanked XRT for playing his music more than they do in New York, where he comes from. The concert was on July 20, 2012. I think, that long ago?

Lin Brehmer once wrote a beautiful essay about time passing, perhaps titled “What Is Time?” I crank up R.O.C.K., which Lin considered his personal anthem, and sing along.

R.O.C.K. by Garland Jeffreys

All of the kids where I come from
Tell the same old story
They want to be in a rock 'n' roll band
Get them a piece of the glory

You can feel it in a heartbeat
You can feel it like a soul beat
You can hear it in the bass line
You can feel it in the backbeat

R.O.C.K. rock
It's sweeping across the nation
R.O.C.K. rock
It's coming from my generation
R.O.C.K. rock
It's giving me a great sensation
R.O.C.K. rock
Wanna hear it on the radio station

It rescued me from a fate
That's worse than death
Just like a destiny
It gives me new breath

You can feel it... R.O.C.K. rock...

Turn it up

Songwriter: Garland Jeffreys

R.O.C.K. lyrics © Black & White Alike Inc., Black & White Alike Inc

-- Sarah Klose

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